Gratitude is More than a Platitude–It’s a Smart Business Strategy

Writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog (January 23, 2012), Tony Schwartz cites a worldwide survey conducted by Towers Watson. The survey states, “The single biggest driver of engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well being.” Would it surprise you to learn that less than 40% of workers feel so engaged? With such a low level of engagement, people do not feel appreciated. They do not feel valued for their contribution the success of the organization. The bad news is that they leave to work other places and the worse news is that they stay to bring down morale in your business. How could an organization develop such a culture? Some managers have the attitude that a paycheck is appreciation enough. Others believe their people know they are appreciated and it is not necessary to express it. For some, they do not know how to express heartfelt thanks for good work. They don’t have the language or at least are not comfortable with the language. After all, work is about work and emotions have no place in business. I remember how surprised I was to hear an employee say to me, “You never say ‘thank you’ for anything that I do.” I did not realize she felt unappreciated. Although it was a bit uncomfortable, I was glad to learn how she felt. It made such an impression on me that I cross-stitched these words to remind me, “Hearts, like doors, will open with ease to very, very little keys. Two of these are ‘Thank you’ and ‘If you please.’” I framed...

Why Interest in Others Is Key to Attracting the Right Client

When I meet someone so enamored with his own verbiage that I cannot hear myself think, I remember my father-in-law.  His wisdom, “He likes to talk to hear his head roar,” comes to mind. Curious listeners make excellent conversationalists.  They also make good impressions at networking events, conferences and dinner parties. Incessant talkers send me to the other side of the room.  If that escape is not available, I retreat behind what I hope is a façade of feigned interest until I can make my get away—politely, of course. In a recent coaching session, my client, whom I will call Phyllis, does not feel confident about the kind of impression she makes at a professional events.  As a young professional on the rise, she is conscious about smart moves to advance her career. To her, the larger than life, engaged, animated and talkative ones seem to make progress faster. Perhaps. The next time you attend an event with people, plan to be a curious listener with these three tools: 1.  Listen to learn by asking questions: What do you do professionally? Tell me about your business or your work. How did you get started in that field? What do you enjoy most about it? How did your company change to survive the Great Recession of 2008? How would I recognize your ideal client? 2.  Listen to serve by taking action: Introduce people to others at the event that can help each other After the event, make a connection for people who could help each other Follow up a conversation with an article that would be of interest to someone...

Good Manners Are Good for Your Business

What you don’t know you don’t know can be expensive. Emily Post wrote Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home in 1922.  Her landmark work articulated guidelines for social behavior.  According to her great granddaughter-in-law, Peggy Post, these are often traditional guidelines. “The underlying code of behavior is based on being thoughtful and considerate that makes our lives function more easily,” says Ms. Post in an interview with Karen Berman on February 8, 1998 in The New York Times.  This definition of etiquette is the same; however, the guidelines have evolved in the last 86 years.  Some profound changes such as women in the workplace and the Internet have changed the guidelines.  Globalization requires us to be aware of protocol and guidelines in other cultures, too. How much are you paying by not knowing the rules of social engagement? Have you known people passed over for a promotion, not because they couldn’t do the work but because there is a gap in their manners?  They were a liability to the company because they didn’t have the interpersonal skills to interact at the C-level.  Table manners, appropriate dress, and communication skills may seem inconsequential but they are the keystones of good human relationships.  Your career advancement, business deals and social networks are linked to your awareness and use of proper etiquette. When you know the guidelines for how people treat each other, you can work more efficiently and improve the quality of life in your workplace. One of the most important skills for business is a proper introduction.  Wouldn’t you like to make an introduction confidently and...

Undervalued People Skills Are Expensive

Making the numbers is a desirable trait of leaders. Who wouldn’t want the leader of a company to make the numbers? If you are grooming leaders for your company, pay attention to their people skills as well as their ability to make the numbers. The CEO of a bank lamented to me the lack of people skills in promising young executives.  He acknowledged that he is responsible to provide training for his team to learn the soft skills as well as the technical skills of banking.  He understands his role is to remove obstacles and provide opportunities for his team so they can achieve success for themselves as well as the bank. Development Dimensions International reports in their 2005/2006 Leadership Forecast that “About one-third of internally sourced leaders fail, usually because of poor people skills or interpersonal skills.”  According to this same report, leaders themselves believe that the most respected trait of leadership is bringing in the numbers. DDI goes on to say it is easy to understand why leaders believe this because they are rewarded for making their financial and organizational goals.  Developing people, building a team, and creating a culture of collaboration don’t show upon the balance sheet and can take a long time to demonstrate measurable results. There are significant costs for business and individuals who have underdeveloped interpersonal skills and people skills. 1.  The ability to accomplish even routine operations is diminished. 2.  More attention is placed on getting even, proving you are right, or nursing hurt feelings than on getting the job done. 3.  Protecting yourself is more important than teamwork and collaboration. 4. ...